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Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
In Indiana Buzz, reporter Tim Vandenack blogs on politics, immigration, elections, taxes, errant geese and more.



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Elkhart Co. lawmakers mull same-sex marriage, drug-testing of aid recipients, guns, nukes

The Indiana legislature reconvenes Jan. 6 and members of the Elkhart County delegation to the House seem to be thinking about same-sex marriage, drug-testing of welfare recipients and undocumented immigrants.

Posted on Dec. 26, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 26, 2013 at 1:54 p.m.

Thursday Dec. 26, 2013

The Indiana legislature reconvenes Jan. 6 and members of the Elkhart County delegation to the House seem to be thinking about same-sex marriage, drug-testing of welfare recipients and undocumented immigrants.

Whether all those issues actually get debate, and, if so, how much, remains to be seen. But the Elkhart County lawmakers broach those topics and much more in their 2014 legislative surveys, meant to gauge constituent sentiment. The reps don't actually offer their positions on the varied topics, but the questions, at least, offer a hint of what's on their minds, what may emerge as issues.

Interestingly, the wording of the questions among lawmakers in a pair of instances -- on same-sex marriage and regulation of church-based daycare facilities -- differs, presenting the issues in varying light. More on that later.

Other topics broached in the surveys (I recently received the paper version in the mail from my state rep, Tim Neese) include gun laws, vote centers, licensing of motor scooter operators, nuclear energy and eliminating township government. Here are highlights of what the five lawmakers representing Elkhart County ask:

Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart, District 48 (here's the actual survey):

  • Do you back implementation of centralized voting centers for voting instead of polling places in individual precincts?
  • Should undocumented immigrants be able to get driver's licenses?
  • Do you back putting the question of amending the constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman on the November ballot? (Lawmakers are expected to take up the question of whether to put the matter on the ballot. Passage in November, if put to voters, would effectively prohibit same-sex marriage.)
  • Should scooter/mo-ped operators have to get driver's licenses and insurance?
  • Should recipients of state-funded welfare like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) have to submit to drug testing?

Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, District 21 (here's the actual survey):

  • Do you back Indiana withdrawing from use of common core educational standards?
  • Do you back change putting management of county government in the hands of one county executive instead of three county commissioners?
  • Should voters in each township have authority to determine whether to ax township government and transfer township responsibilities to county government?
  • Should Indiana "impose regulations" on unlicensed child care operations affiliated with churches?
  • Do you back amending the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman?

State Rep. Wes Culver, R-Goshen, District 49 (here's the actual survey):

  • Should marijuana sales be legalized and taxed, should marijuana possession be decriminalized or should marijuana laws be left the same?
  • Should Indiana encourage development of nuclear energy plants?
  • Should Indiana allow Sunday carry-out alcohol sales?
  • Should Indiana require drug testing of TANF recipients?
  • Should Medicaid be expanded in Indiana to cover more people, as proposed under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)?

State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, District 22 (here's the actual survey):

  • Does Indiana need stricter gun laws?
  • Should certain undocumented immigrants be able to pay lower in-state tuition rates at public Indiana universities?
  • Should Indiana impose "equal standards" on church-affiliated childcare agencies that receive federal funding?
  • Do you back amending the Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as already defined in Indiana law?
  • Should Indiana require drug-testing of TANF recipients?

State Rep. David Ober, R-Albion (here's the actual survey):

  • Should Indiana encourage development of nuclear energy plants?
  • Should township government be eliminated and township fiscal authority transferred to county government?
  • Should Indiana law be changed to let those with gun permits lawfully secure their guns in their autos when they go into schools?
  • Should certain undocumented immigrants be able to pay lower in-state tuition rates at Indiana's public universities?
  • Should mo-ped/scooter operators have to get driver's licenses and insurance?

Kubacki's query on the same-sex marriage question differs notably from Neese's and Wesco's. Kubacki's question notes that state law already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and she poses the question in terms of whether the constitution should be amended "to define what is already law". Neese and Wesco don't note that fact.

Similarly, on the question of regulating church-run daycare centers, Kubacki words the question in terms of whether the state should impose "equal standards" on such facilities, if they get federal funding. Wesco, in his question, words the query in terms of imposing "higher standards" on church-run facilities.

Tim Vandenack is a reporter at the Elkhart Truth newspaper in Elkhart, Ind., www.etruth.com. Reach him at tvandenack@etruth.com or 574-296-5884. Visit him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack.




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